Review: Westin Playa Conchal Hotel and Resort, Playa Conchal Beach, Guanacaste, Costa Rica


Our time at the Westin Playa Conchal was divided between the resort area and the beach area. For our time spent at the beach area and areas around the hotel of the Westin Playa Conchal, please follow along here. For our experiences spent at the hotel area, please see the Westin Playa Conchal Resort.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Costa Rica. This trip was booked and credited to Air Canada Aeroplan and Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy). For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: The Westin Reserva Playa Conchal Beach and Surrounding Area, Playa Conchal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

“The Playa Conchal beach was filled with tiny shells.

The Beach space is natural and fits with Costa Rica’s natural eco vibe

About Playa Conchal:

The beach that was attached to the resort, “Playa Conchal” is so named as it consisted of millions of tiny beach shells that have been crushed to a pulp to make a white / yellow sand beach. The beach was a public area, with a public road access both north and south. The hotel would bring down kayaks and beach chairs on request as included activities. It was made very clear by Westin through signage that the beach vendors were not associated with the hotel. The beach had several beach massage vendors – some there one day and gone the next. 

Playa Conchal
The Shores of Playa Conchal

I found that although there was the initial assault of “welcome, need a tour?” as you first stepped off the property, the experience was not any worse than any other beach in Colombia, Peru or Mexico.

There were several local vendors on the beach selling somewhat reduced prices for souvenirs. There was a small amount of bargaining (10-15%) off the initial asking prices but nothing like the 60% discounts you can get off merchandise in South East Asia. 

Snorkling from the Beach – Hardly any fish

We had brought our own snorkel gear with us but after 30 minutes of trying to find some fish, we were almost totally shut out. We did see a single tiny grey and black fish that took interest to us, but didn’t see any others of any quality. The visibility was terrible for snorkeling due to the waves churning against the shore, and despite trying on both the beach areas and near some tidal pools we completely struck out. I anecdotally heard from other couple that the sunset / snorkel cruise was not much different in terms of seeing fish. 

Breaking up the attempted theft of our shoes:

While we out on the Playa Conchal beach, snorkeling and looking for fish, I did interrupt an attempted theft of our shoes. My wife was getting a beach massage ($10/$15/$20 per hour – with the price depending on weather and the time of day) and while we were snorkeling, an older Costa Rican man decided to root through our towels on the beach and take my son’s Lego Crocs and my Teva Flip Flops. I saw this from the water and charged after him. I asked him for the shoes which he pulled out of a bag he was carrying. He kept saying something like “Disculpe” which meant excuse me, but I didn’t really stick around to hear it or find out his reasons as he didn’t look like he spoke any English at all and my Spanish is limited at best. I chalked it up to him being a broke person looking to re-sell the stuff. It was quite obvious with the hotel towels and snorkel bags that the shoes were not abandoned. Nevertheless, I didn’t really feel in any danger, the beach was really populated. It’s worth mentioning as I was on a bit of edge for a few days, but nothing further ever happened the other 6 days we were on the beach so I’d say it was an isolated incident.

The Beaches of Playa Conchal
The Beach Area at Playa Conchal

The weather was a little turbulent during our visit in late August and we had the opportunity to see the beach in both great weather and sour weather.

Surrounding the Resort: Walking to Playa Brasilito.

After the 5th day, we ventured off property again via the road on the Playa Conchal and walked up the beach to Playa Brasilito in search of the real Costa Rica. Being on the resort, we were pretty insulated as to the life in the surrounding towns and wanted to see a little bit of what Costa Rica was really like. 

Its a short walk along the beach front of only a few kilometers up to the next town from Playa Conchal to Brasilito Beach.

It was a picturesque and somewhat grey walk today up the coast.

Playa Brasilito
A Walk to Town

The walk was pretty easy and the beaches were no where near as nice as Playa Conchal. There were a lot of ATV tours that passed across the beach through the town. 

ATV’s on the Beach at Playa Brasilito
Local Beach Bar’s offering local ceviche

We did find some souvenir shops but again, there was very limited bargaining and the prices were almost no different than the souvenir vendors outside of the hotel beach gate.

Brasilito Beach Souvenirs
The Main Road to and from town
Brasilito Beach

Costa Rica’s Animals around the Playa Conchal Resort:

One of the unique parts of staying at a resort in Costa Rica are the animals that are everywhere. Costa Rica was reported to have 600+ species of animals per square mile compared to 158 species of animals per square mile in the United States. It also meant that the resort served limited food items near the pool area as the animals would become the ultimate foragers, knocking over backpacks and searching through unattended bags.

It was a unique treat to be sharing space with these creatures and the joy of being able to see my son’s expression when interacting with these animals on an almost daily basis was entertaining. It was different than the resorts in South East Asia / Hawaii as you never knew what surprises were lurking around the corner.

Costa Rican Semi Wild Animals
Animal Invasions outside your front door
Animals Around the Resort

There were also lots of lizards and iguanas that made their quieter and less active mark around the property. It’s pretty neat to see these characters in the wild inspecting the surrounding around them in a quiet and tactical manner.

Iguanas around the property
Spies on the Water

These were all taken on the resort property. We had numerous opportunity to view animals like this since many of them have a pack mentality as they roam throughout the resort.

My Thoughts on the Westin Playa Conchal:

The Westin Playa Conchal had a fair amount of attractions to keep you entertained. The beach, while pleasant, is a pretty good beach, but perhaps not the spectualr beaches that you’d find in Hawaii, Thailand or other more exotic islands. The real win about visiting Costa Rica is it’s diversity of animals and the activities that you dan do while you’re here.

Related Posts:

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to look at these related posts that explore other aspects of the Westin Playa Conchal by taking a look into these areas:

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